You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Relatives’ category.
Blog-wise, anyway. I’ve been on vacation for the last ten days. I guess it was ten, I’m too lazy to count. You count for me: I left on the 23rd and came back on the 31st. What is that? Nine days? So nine days, not ten. This is the tenth day and here I am. Surprise! It’s good to see you too.
Let me summarize my vacation for you: We drove down to Gold Beach, which is in southern Oregon. There is nothing at all in Gold Beach except a jet boat tour that will take you up the Rogue River to the bustling metropolis of Agness, which also has nothing in it. I don’t mean to besmirch any of these fine geographical locations. The jet boat tour was a lot of fun. The beach at Gold Beach is very pretty. We ate lunch in Agness, and it was pretty good. We went to church while we were in Gold Beach, and I think we increased the congregational population by 20 percent. I find coastal towns inordinately depressing, but I enjoyed church there very much. It must have reminded me of my college days and the era of Mormon scarcity. Everything’s more precious when it’s scarce. Must be similar to the way Gold Beach residents react when they see a job. But I digress.
Anyway, we were in Gold Beach for a few days, then we drove down into California to see the Redwoods. We went to the Trees of Mystery, which has all the funny-looking redwood trees, and then we did some (very little) hiking in Fern Canyon. I want to tell you one thing about Fern Canyon: If you have the opportunity to go there, you must. It’s astonishingly beautiful.
Then we drove back into Oregon to see the Oregon Caves. Those were cool. Another thing that has to be experienced in real life. I tried to take pictures, but pictures don’t work. They really don’t. That didn’t stop me from taking them, of course. I kept trying to get them to work, but they just don’t. I’m sorry, but that is my excuse for not posting pictures of my vacation. You can thank me later.
Then we spent a day in Medford just taking a breather. This was one of what my husband has come to term “dog’s butt days.” (I hope you appreciate that hyper-link I went to all the trouble of providing, even if you don’t feel the need to click on it.) It is his concession to my need to not be constantly doing something, i.e. my preference for always doing nothing. Medford really is a bustling metropolis, next to Gold Beach and Agness, but there is also very little to do there. So I did the laundry and saw Brave with my daughters. (We had to drive to a theater in a neighboring city, though, since the one theater in Medford was not showing anything we wanted to see.) And that was the dog’s butt day that was.
The next day we drove to Eugene and visited with some friends. Eugene is just as depressing as it’s always been. Not coastal-town depressing, but I-used-to-live-here-and-I’m-so-glad-I-don’t-anymore depressing. No offense to Eugene. Well, none taken, I’m sure! Eugene is a special place. Unfortunately, it occupies a corner of my memory which is reserved for Very Dark Periods of my life. I get a similar feeling of dread every time I drive past an apartment building we used to live in. It’s all part of Life When Life Sucked. And you know, it’s not like life never sucks now, but compared to the way it sucked then? Well, there’s just no comparison. What’s the difference? Money. I’m sorry to say. But it’s true. I’ll never forget the first day I walked into a grocery store and thought to myself, “I can totally afford to buy whatever kind of breakfast cereal I want.” Money may not buy happiness, but it certainly mitigates the sadness. If you don’t believe me, ask a poor person.
The next day, which was yesterday, the last day of our vacation, we drove to the Enchanted Forest in Salem, on our way home. The Enchanted Forest is another thing that has to be seen to be believed. I call it the poor man’s Disneyland. My husband calls it “charmingly low-rent.” It’s the sort of place that my older kids should totally be over by now, but we go there every year and they still love it.
We took my mother-in-law on this vacation. At first she wasn’t going to come. I mean, at first we had planned for her to come, but then she spent three weeks in Chicago with her newborn grandchild and feeling like she was driving her daughter-in-law nuts, so she came back here and said she didn’t think she wanted to come with us on vacation because she didn’t want to drive me nuts. My mother-in-law is always talking about how she doesn’t want to drive me nuts. Really, it’s her son she drives nuts, not me. But after Sugar Daddy and the kids used all their powers of persuasion to get her to come with us, she said she would leave it up to me. To which I said, “…” Because what does one say? My suspicion was that she didn’t really want to come with us and maybe she wanted some time to herself after a stressful three weeks with her other grandchildren and daughter-in-law, but if I told her to go ahead and stay home if she wanted to, she would have interpreted it as “I’m too polite to tell you that you’ll drive me nuts.” So whatever. I don’t remember how it all went down, but she ended up coming after all.
Let me tell you: Never again. NEVER AGAIN. She really didn’t want to come. I was totally right about that. The kids drove her crazy, she drove my husband crazy, and even I, who don’t have the energy to be driven crazy by people to whom I’m not married or who didn’t come out of my birth canal, was driven crazy. The hours in the car were the worst. She was constantly sighing. She was like Al Gore in the 2000 presidential debate. Sigh. SIGH. SIGH. I want to tell you: I love my mother-in-law very much. Generally speaking, she does not drive me crazy. I’m very happy to have her living near us now. And I am very invested in her NOT getting sick of us in the first year. So, no. No more vacations with Grandma. She needs her space.
School starts on Tuesday. I’m very nervous about it. I just think I’m not prepared. This is my own special neurosis, perhaps, but I seem to feel unprepared on my children’s behalf, because I don’t know what they can expect. In the event that one of them goes to school on the first day and has no idea what to do or what’s going on, even if I were right there next to them, available to guide them through this difficult time in childhood, I would have no freaking clue how to help them. It’s ridiculous because I’m definitely NOT going to school with them, and therefore there is no realistic scenario in which I would need to help them navigate their day or find their locker or the cafeteria or whatever–I don’t know what kinds of problems they may or may not have, that’s how unprepared I am!–and so why should it bother me that I would be utterly inadequate to the task? I should just be grateful that they’re going to school and I’m not.
I guess I just need everything to go smoothly. I may have a psychological post-traumatic-stress thing going on because I was not prepared for when Princess Zurg entered kindergarten, I did not know what to expect, and kindergarten was a disaster. More to the point: Kindergarten through fourth grade was a disaster, an almost-daily disaster, during which it was not uncommon for me to receive phone calls during the day from someone at the school asking me to intervene in the disaster that was my daughter’s education and hoping that I could solve it, which I never could. Never mind that my other children have had very successful school experiences. PZ herself has since had successful school experiences, including a miraculously successful transition to middle school. Why should I be so nervous about her starting high school? Because I’ve been to that high school, and it’s big and scary. I don’t want someone to call me in the middle of the day and make me go down there. I’m afraid.
This year Mister Bubby starts middle school. I am somewhat less nervous about him because he always seems to manage just fine–or at least well enough that it is easy for me to ignore what he is not managing. I am being darkly facetious here. It’s the guilt talking. He really is a very capable child, despite the fact that he spent the first six months of his life glued to my breast. I really need to let that go. Plus, his BFF will be with him. You can get through anything with a BFF, can’t you? Have I ever mentioned that I have this secret fear that MB and his BFF will have some falling out because I have never had a lifelong BFF-ship and don’t understand how friendships can possibly last longer than a certain amount of time? I am gathering more material for my next therapy session as I type.
Elvis is also transitioning this year. He has spent the last three years in what they call the “lower social communication classroom” and now that he’ll be in fourth grade, he will be in the “upper social communication classroom”–the “lower” and “upper” refer to grade level, and the “social communication” refers to the fact that all the students are on the autism spectrum. Elvis has always had less expressive language capability than his classmates, and although he’s had a lot of improvement, he still communicates on a much lower level than his peers, even in this classroom where everyone has a social communication deficit. So–regardless of whether or not I’ve explained this situation adequately, I am nervous because academically there is a big jump between the lower and upper section, and I don’t know how he’s going to do with the increased expectations, not to mention the changes in general. He’s gotten much more adaptive over the years, but he’s still pretty rigid, and you know what? I’m pathologically pessimistic, even when I strongly desire not to be. I am refusing to think about this matter any more until somebody makes me. I just can’t take the stress.
And Girlfriend also has a transition, which I am mostly happy about because she will finally be in school full-time. I ought to be doing cartwheels. Metaphorical cartwheels, but still. Anyway. I don’t really worry about her. She likes school and is excited for school. She will need to get up earlier than she’s used to and she’ll be in school much longer than she’s used to, but I think she’ll be okay. Unfortunately, our school district has made some really big cuts this year and the target class size is 39. I think the first grade classrooms will all have 37. I have no reason to be particularly worried about my child, but I just can’t get my head around 37 first-graders in a classroom and what that will possibly look like. Well, I can see what it will possibly look like, but I’m trying to envision the not-disastrous scenario, and it is very difficult for someone of my personality type.
There is also the fact that her teacher is someone of whom the school psychologist once said, “That woman should not be in front of a classroom.” (This is hearsay, as far as I’m concerned, but only secondhand, and from a very reliable source, which gives me pause. Well, first I’m pausing because I can hardly believe a professional would make such an admission to a parent, but also I am pausing because, well, if she said it, it says a lot.) Personally, I don’t know that she’s that bad a teacher. MB had her for first grade, and he did fine. But still. With 37 children in the classroom, do you really want the teacher of whom such a thing was said by a fellow faculty member? Of course, I knew this was the teacher Girlfriend would get. I don’t have the social capital to get my kid into the Desirable First Grade Classroom with the Legendary Wonderful Teacher. I don’t even have the social capital to get my kid into the Other First Grade Classroom with the New and Therefore Unknown-Quantity Teacher. This is a natural consequence of my failure to join the PTA and volunteer at school. If my daughter burns out in first grade, I will only have myself to blame.
Just kidding. I will totally blame someone else. I don’t really anticipate that there will be a problem–at least not a problem that directly affects my child. But this might be because I am wearing myself out with all the other back-to-school worries. I simply don’t have the time and energy to worry about child #4. It’s the same reason there are no photographs of her between the ages of two and twenty-three months. And now I’m re-hashing my guilt over that, too. Thanks a lot, me. Great job!
Like I said, there’s plenty for the next therapy session.
Gentle readers, adieu.
And I’m writing this very special blog post, just for her (in case I forget to call her later)! Ha ha, like I could ever forget to do something as important as calling my sister on her birthday (especially after I wrote this very special blog about it)!
Actually, I’m pretty bad at remembering to call people on their birthdays. You might have noticed, if you’re related to me, that I forget it frequently. And don’t even send a card. Because I’m a terrible human being. This self-flagellation is meant as a belated birthday gift to everyone I’ve accidentally slighted. Except Bythelbs, for whom it is meant to be a timely birthday gift. Because today is her birthday! This very day!
I won’t tell you how old she is, except to say that she’s younger than I am. Also, I can’t remember. Just kidding! That was a joke–like, I can’t remember because I’m so old, unlike her.
Random Number of Fun Facts about Bythelbs, Which Number Has Nothing To Do with Her Age
1. She was my favorite pen pal when we were in college. She was at BYU, I was at a small Baptist school in Virginia, and I always looked forward to getting her letters in the mail because they were so funny. This was before e-mail killed the letter-writing tradition. We wrote each other long letters. I’m not sure how I managed to write so many pages about my incredibly boring life–well, actually, I do know how I do it. It’s the same way I write this blog. I guess I’m not sure how I managed to write so many pages longhand without getting a cramp. I was addressing Christmas cards last night and I woke up this morning with a really sore arm. Clearly I had not used those muscles in quite some time. But here I am making this all about me. Expect more of that, probably.
2. I was really sad when she got engaged–not because she was getting married before I was (I kind of expected her to do that), but because I was afraid that everything would change and we wouldn’t be as close anymore. Actually, what happened is that she got married, we still wrote each other letters, but when we both started having kids, we did drift apart somewhat. Partly because I became very bad at calling people on their birthdays. Or ever.
3. My blog used to be a complete secret from everyone except my husband, until circumstances conspired to allow Bythelbs to discover it quite by accident. I won’t lie to you, kids. When she told me she’d found my blog, I was like, “Oh…[crap].” Let’s just say it could have been ugly. But instead it brought us close together again because once she’d read my blog–psh, what was left to hide from her? I even convinced her to start her own blog. (And by “convinced” I mean “said, ‘that’s a great idea!’ when she brought it up all on her own.”) Initially I tried to direct some traffic her way–you know, to be the supportive sister–but since I didn’t have much traffic coming my way, there wasn’t much to direct anywhere else. In the end, I think I got about ten times more readers from her than she ever did from me. (And by that I mean I think I got about ten readers from her. Which more than doubled my total readership. So that was awesome.)
4. She has always been the funniest person I know. I don’t know how many people get to see her hilarious side in real life, but she has always been able to make me laugh. During times of my life that were incredibly difficult and dark, she would call just to check up on me and sooner or later I would be cracking up. (In the sense of laughing, not of having a nervous breakdown.) She doesn’t even mean to make me do it, she just does. (And by that I do not mean that I laugh at her…although sometimes I guess technically it is laughing at her…but fortunately she has a good sense of humor about it!)
So–happy birthday, Bythelbs! I hope you’re celebrating in style (though how you will top this Very Special Blog Post, I do not know).
And by that I mean “I hope a cop comes to bust up your party and ends up singing and dancing (not in a creepy way, like a stripper, but just like in this video).”
Alliteration + Enthusiasm = Blogging Success!
At least I hope so. I don’t really have anything to talk about this morning. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Woke up this morning, finished tidying up for the housekeepers–at least as tidy as it’s going to get–then went to Mister Bubby’s Family History Exhibit at school. It wasn’t just MB’s Family History Exhibit, of course. The whole fifth grade was doing it. As an assignment, not like a peer pressure thing (in case that wasn’t clear). The assignment was to interview a “family elder,” get their life story and also obtain some “artifacts” that were relevant to their life. The first week of school MB came home and said, “I have to interview a family member–the older the better.” I said, “Well, I think the oldest member of our family who still has all their marbles is my dad.” At first MB was less than enthusiastic. No offense to Grandpa, but how interesting could he be? (Only being 64? Or being related to me? I don’t know.) I convinced him that my dad actually was interesting–no, for real. He grew up on a farm in Idaho–he drove a tractor, for Pete’s sake!–and he became a scientist. How is that not interesting??? Come on!!! I think it was the tractor that sold him.
So I learned a couple things from MB doing this project: 1) I haven’t done a very good job teaching my children anything about their grandparents. 2) MB is really bad about punctuation. I don’t mean that he hasn’t learned the art of the comma, which takes years to master–don’t feel bad if you haven’t yet (it’s kind of a gift). I’m talking periods. He’s very stingy with the periods. And yet he got a very high score on his state writing test last year. Should I be concerned about academic standards in Oregon? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ah, where was I? Anyway, yes. I was astonished at all the things MB didn’t already know. Okay, not astonished. Somewhat surprised. So I think I should probably tell the kids boring stories about their grandparents and about me growing up more often than I have heretofore. Sometimes I give these historical factoids to Princess Zurg and she says, “Why are you telling me this?” As if the tales of my youth are not fascinating! Yes, clearly there is more work to be done on this front. The family history front, I mean. And the punctuation front. I have a legacy to worry about.
I was disappointed, but not particularly surprised, that there was almost nothing in MB’s report about my father’s career. My father’s work has been a big part of his life, and he’s been very successful. But it wouldn’t be like him to talk about it. At least not voluntarily. The work my dad does is stuff that most people can’t understand, and he can’t explain it in just a couple of sentences, and I think he’s afraid of boring people, so historically (ha, historically) he has just not talked about it at all. He’s a mass spectrometrist, in case you were wondering. He sat us all down and explained it to us once, and it made complete sense at the time–he did a very good job explaining–but, um, I can’t explain it to you now. Because…there’s just not enough time, you see. Yeah. Anyway, my dad’s had an impressive career. He’s discovered stuff and been an expert witness at trials and is all distinguished and crap. But when his grandson is interviewing him about his life, what does he tell him about? The time he won a chili contest. To be fair, it was really good chili, and it was a proud moment for our family. But still.
Anyway, after the Family History Exhibit, I had to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned. I like getting my teeth cleaned. I guess I mainly like my teeth having been cleaned. The process is not particularly pleasurable–although I don’t mind it. I’ve been going to this dentist for the last seven years, and he’s a fellow Mormon and we actually used to be in the same ward. I’ve told this story, but not for a few years, so I feel free to repeat it. Initially I was not interesting in having a dentist who was someone I knew socially. Or rather, I was not interested in having the people who knew me socially also having intimate knowledge of my dental health. But I got over it. Now it’s no big deal. Actually, one of his hygienists is in my ward currently, and she’s the one who cleaned my teeth today. She’s cleaned my teeth before. The first time I thought, “Eh, I’m not sure I want N to know how much tartar buildup I have.” But I got over it. Now it’s no big deal. Where was I? Nowhere. I was just babbling. The cleaning takes longer now, what with the braces, and also because I’m chatting with the hygienist about our kids and crap. Stuff, I mean.
I have thought sometimes that being a dental hygienist, once you get past the ick-factor of having your hands in someone else’s maybe-not-so-hygienic mouth, must be a reasonably satisfying job. If you feel satisfied when you clean something and don’t have to clean it again for another six months. I think I might enjoy it. I mentioned this to my husband once, and he said he didn’t think I was perky enough to be a dental hygienist. I think he is right. Do you know any cranky dental hygienists? But it was just a passing fancy, anyway. I have also wondered if dental hygienists can do their own cleanings, or if they can’t, are they extra-self-conscious when they get their teeth cleaned by someone else? Would they be too embarrassed to let one of their colleagues do it? These are questions I have wanted to ask, but thusfar have not dared. Not even with the hygienists I know socially.
Well. It’s 1 p.m. and I’m still waiting on the housekeepers. Actually, I’m not going to wait anymore. I’m going to go grocery shopping because it has to be done sometime. Hopefully the housekeepers will show up and do their business before the kids all come home from school. Do you think housekeepers are very good at cleaning their own houses, or are they too tired at the end of the day to bother? One would think they’d seen enough dirty houses all day not to want to come home to a dirty one, so maybe they’re extra-organized and conscientious. I knew a housekeeper once. Technically, she was a housekeeping supervisor–she’d worked her way up in the company. This was before I was in the market for a housekeeper, of course. This was when having a housekeeper was just a girlish fantasy. Anyway, I’d just had Elvis, and this lovely woman offered to come help me clean my house (apartment, technically), since I’d mentioned I was having some trouble in that area. I said something about maybe not wanting her to see my home in all its uncleaned glory, and she said, “Honey, I’ve seen it all, and I’ve cleaned it all. Nothing fazes me.” And I believed her. But as it happened, two other friends of mine showed up on my doorstep one day and announced that they were going to clean my apartment for me. At first I was like, “Wow, this may be humiliating.” (Thinking, not out loud.) But actually, it was just really nice. Those two ladies are going to heaven someday. I hope I will see them there, but so far it’s looking unlikely. Ha! That’s my self-deprecating humor-that-is-in-fact-totally-serious for the day. I’ll catch you gentle readers later. Ta ta!
My younger sisters used to say that. Or one of them did. Apparently at their (her?) elementary school, Tuesday was the day you stepped on people’s toes or something. That’s all I remember. I know you’re reading, younger sisters, so you can tell me all about this, if you remember–which I’m sure you do, because if it’s in my consciousness after all these years because of you, surely it must be something significant for you as well–oh, wait…
Anyway, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Tuesday. That it’s Toes Day, even though no one ever stepped on my toes just because it was a Tuesday. This is because I’ve never told my husband or my children about Tuesday being Toes Day. You realize that my life is about to change now, because of this blog–because I have chosen to share this heretofore-private stroll down Memory Lane. I did it for you, gentle readers. Yeah, I know you didn’t ask me to, and maybe if you had known beforehand, you would have stopped me, but I’m a loose cannon, kids. I can’t be controlled.
The other thing I think when I think of Tuesday is that we’re gonna have a special guest.
Did any of you watch the Mickey Mouse Club when you were kids? Old-school Mickey Mouse Club rocked. The new Mickey Mouse club was for posers. I really admired Annette Funicello, back in the day. I kind of wanted to be her, but not really because deep inside I knew I’d never be that high-class.
Anyway, I sing this song on a regular basis. Practically every Tuesday. My kids have never understood it, but they don’t understand most of what I do, especially the singing parts. Occasionally they say, “What the heck are you talking/singing about?” but most of the time they try to ignore me.
All of this is to say that today is Tuesday, I have nothing much to blog about, and it’s probably a good thing because I don’t really have time to blog, being that we have several special guests in the house–namely, my husband’s family. Like, all of them. Well, actually the Chicago branch has left, but we still have the Los Angeles and Hiroshima branches here, so I’m kind of pre-occupied with relative-related things. I even canceled the housekeepers; that’s how pre-occupied I am. Of course, I cleaned the house myself before they came. I may even have done a better job of it than the housekeepers would have (except I didn’t really mop the kitchen floor, just spot-cleaned it, and I didn’t actually clean the shower or bathtub, only the toilets and counters, so okay, I didn’t actually do a better job than they would have, but I did clean my kitchen table, kitchen chairs, and kitchen walls, which they never do–and I never do–so it seemed impressive at the time), but of course that’s all undone now, but whatever. The kids are all off school this week because it’s spring break, and there’s no good time for the housekeepers to come, no, not even at 8:30 in the morning, so I canceled them. And now I’ve used up all my blogging time to tell you that, and there isn’t time for me to tell you about all the other stuff I don’t have time for. I’m just going to quit before you stop believing that my relatives are really here.
I’ll talk to you gentle readers later. Ciao.
What shall I regale you with today, mes amis? Do you know that I took two whole weeks of French in college? That would be four whole classes, I believe. Wait. Maybe it was only a week and a half of French, which would make it three whole classes. Well, whatever. Do you know what I remember from French class? “Enchantee.” “Enchantee.” And spelling my name, which has a lot of E’s in it. I could never say “E” right in French. That was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back. If only I could have spelled someone else’s name, perhaps I would be reading Zola in his original language today, n’est-ce pas? But that is water under the bridge.
Yesterday, quite suddenly and out of nowhere, I noticed that my teeth were not hurting. This morning I ate shredded wheat for breakfast. It was all right. I think that later today I may try biting into something with my front teeth. Not like a steak or anything crazy like that, but maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am feeling that confident.
I also seem to be building up callouses on the inside of my mouth, which is another sign of progress.
I talked to my father on the phone last night. It was his birthday, and I like to talk on the phone with him for his birthday because I never remember to send a card, let alone a gift. My father is hard to shop for, anyway. He’s at that stage of life where everything he wants he’s already bought for himself. That means that if I want to give him something he doesn’t already have, I have to a) spend more money than I have, or b) put more thought, time and effort into his gift than I can afford. Fortunately, my father isn’t one of those people who makes a point of remembering whether or not you gave him a gift for his birthday. At least he’s never acted like he cared. Maybe that’s the problem. He should have pretended to care, if only so I would have been trained to acknowledge his birthday in a more meaningful way. Do you like the way I turned this into his problem instead of mine? Clever. Anyway, I talked with him on the phone. He said he had a good birthday. So he didn’t need a dumb gift from me after all! I think I will hang my Daughter Of The Year plaque in the bathroom.
Also last night, I dropped Princess Zurg off at the roller rink for a church activity. She had been undecided about whether or not to go, since she hasn’t historically enjoyed skating and doesn’t enjoy falling down and, in her words, is “sort of clumsy.” But she decided to give it a go, anyway, because maybe she might have fun this time. I was proud of her for being open to new versions of old experiences. Anyway, it was a weird experience going to the roller rink. I’m pretty sure this was the same roller rink I skated at when I was a kid, and I don’t believe they’ve redecorated at all in the intervening thirty years. It is really like stepping into a time machine. There is something vaguely seedy about most roller rinks, I think. They’re not something that anyone builds new ones of, you know? And this one was just out in the middle of nowhere, in a dark alley. I reckon that it was a slightly more bustling commercial district in its day, but I don’t really remember. I think I only ever went there during the day. That would have made it a little less creepy. Anyway, back to PZ–when she came home, I asked her how it went, and she said it sucked and it was two hours of her life that she wanted back. So now we know for sure she’s not a skater, and that’s good.
I was a skater, once upon a time. A roller skater, that is. I had my own roller skates and skated around the neighborhood all the time. I am so old that I once owned roller skates with metal wheels. Can you believe they ever made those? Anyway, I loved to roller skate, as a kid. What I did not love about roller rinks is that they always had you do the hokey-pokey at some point. Was this anyone else’s experience? I have never been a fan of the hokey-pokey. Even as a child, I think I found it too undignified to enjoy. Unworthy of us serious roller skaters. Well, whatever. At some point I stopped roller skating–probably when I grew out of my skates and I stopped getting invited to roller skating parties (because who roller skated anymore?)–maybe around age twelve. I didn’t go again until I was an adult, and let me tell you, that was an entirely different experience. (Except for the hokey-pokey part. Seriously, what’s the deal with the hokey-pokey?) I spent the whole time being terrified that I was going to run into or get knocked over by some four-year-old on roller blades. Excuse me, that’s incorrect. Some four-year-old on inline skates that were probably not Rollerblades (TM). I haven’t been skating since before PZ was born, but last night had me feeling a bit nostalgic. Maybe I just need my own private roller rink.
I never did learn how to skate on inline skates. They were after my time. But not after my father’s. My father enjoys trying new things. (That was how he broke his hip a couple years ago, riding to work on his razor scooter–or as my sister put it at the time, “extreme commuting.”) When I was in high school, he decided to take up inline skating. He bought himself a pair of inline skates–Rollerblades (TM), I believe–and he would drive me to my early-morning seminary class, which started at 6 a.m., and while I was in class, he would practice skating in the parking lot of the church. And all the time people would ask me, “Was that your dad Rollerblading [“Incorrect!”–Ed.] in the church parking lot?” And I would say, “Yes. Yes, that was my dad. He enjoys trying new things.” At some point he got pretty good at it, or at least competent, and I don’t remember if he just lost interest or didn’t have time for it anymore. I should ask him the next time I talk to him–which should be before his next birthday, or I’m not Daughter Of The Year.
Tonight PZ has a slumber party at her BFF’s house. I am going to drop her and her other BFF off at the Birthday BFF’s place (that would be the BBFF’s place, but I didn’t want to confuse you) and then probably take the younger kids out for hamburgers. I might even eat a hamburger myself. We’ll see how the peanut butter and jelly thing goes. Maybe we’ll go to McDonald’s so I can get McNuggets, which can be bitten into quite easily with one’s back teeth. Except that Mister Bubby hates McDonald’s, and I hate chicken nuggets that are not of the Mc-variety. I don’t know what it is that makes McNuggets so much tastier than other varieties of chicken nuggets (not to be confused with chicken strips, or chicken tenders, which are completely different animals), but I find myself thinking how much more awesome they probably tasted before they felt compelled to use all-white meat.
I’m sorry, but after two weeks of shunning most foods as not worth the dental pain they would cause, I am feeling a tad hungry.
I really am going to stop typing soon, but I wanted to tell you that I finished reading that Joy Fielding book, The Wild Zone. It really was unlike any other Joy Fielding book, although it did end up having some obligatory Joy Fielding elements. The men were all jerks or wusses, and there were a couple of dream sequences. And not long after that first fifty pages, the obligatory Character Who’s A Grammar Nazi appeared. At least this time it was the villain who was obsessed with grammar and not the heroine. I don’t know if that was some kind of self-parody or if Joy Fielding is just evolving as a writer and/or human being, but whatever–I approve. It was a pretty good book, complete with a Scooby Doo ending, which I appreciated. This ends our mini-installment of Mad’s Book Club, and thus endeth today’s blog, for it is 1,400-plus words and, you know, that’s just too many.
Gentle readers, adieu. Or as they say in the francais, “Lecteurs doux, au revoir.” (At least that’s what the free online translator said. French-speaking readers, please correct as necessary.)
So I was in Seattle over the weekend. I met up with Steve, Aaron, Stapley, Karen, and Tracy from BCC and got to spend some quality time with my sister, bythelbs. Overall, a winner. I even made the drive in record time–three and a half hours, which is how long it’s supposed to take but somehow it always manages to take longer. Way, way longer. Usually it’s Tacoma’s fault but I’m not going to talk trash about Tacoma this time because a) there was no traffic in Tacoma this weekend (at least when I was driving) and b) Tacoma-ites can be really sensitive when you say their town sucks. Not that I would ever do that!*
*Pay no heed to the fact that among the top search engine terms that lead folks to this blog is the phrase “tacoma sucks.” This is a mischaracterization of my position!
Anyway, I’m really glad that I got to go, but I was very tired when I got home. Of course, I was tired when I left. I have been very tired a lot lately. And now I share an anecdote that gives information you may not want to know about me. The night before I left, Girlfriend was sleeping in the bed with me–my husband was downstairs, probably because he fell asleep on the couch playing video games, NOT because I sent him down there–and at one point she came around to my side of the bed and nudged me to move over. I was all like, “What’s wrong with your side of the bed, lady?” but I was too tired to articulate that and instead just rolled over and promptly discovered what I would have guessed already if I hadn’t been so tired, which was that my daughter had peed all over that side of the bed, so naturally she didn’t want to sleep there, duh. Anyway, I was so tired, I didn’t even strip the bed, I just laid towels down and a fresh blanket and called it good enough. I know! It’s disgusting, but I was that tired. Anyway, I meant to change the sheets before I left for Seattle, but I didn’t and when I came home, they still hadn’t been changed. And before you grab your smelling salts, no, my husband did not sleep in that bed while I was gone (I don’t call him “The Princess” for nothing); he slept on the couch downstairs because to his knowledge no one had peed on it. (Lately!) So I was very tired on Saturday night, but yes, I did change the sheets before going to sleep. I have some standards. Sometimes.
I was tired this morning, too, but that’s mainly because Girlfriend woke up twice last night–once to wet the bed (her own this time), and once again to let me know that she hadn’t forgotten that I was home and needed to be woken up multiple times during the night. I’m feeling a bit more alert right now, but my back hurts. I don’t know why my back hurts, it just does. It’s probably a posture thing. I don’t know. I take full responsibility, I just don’t know what to do about it.
So today is Valentine’s Day. I don’t have strong feelings about Valentine’s Day. It is not a holiday that was traditionally observed in the home I grew up in. My father was not a romantic sort of dude, and my mother was not the type to insist that he be romantic anyway. She just quietly resented him for it, the way a good wife does. I’m just kidding. (Sort of.) My father is not the type to forget Valentine’s Day nowadays, but that’s because his second wife is the type who takes responsibility for her own Valentine’s Day happiness by telling him what she wants, i.e. something from him. That’s just an interesting aside, not the topic of this paragraph. Or maybe it is the topic of this paragraph. Maybe I need to start a new paragraph with a new topic. I think I will.
There! Or rather, Here! So I never thought Valentine’s Day was that big of a deal. But it wasn’t just the lack of appropriate V-Day-celebrating example in my home. What really cinched it was the fact that every year in school you had to give valentines to every single person in your class, even the kids you hated. I understand wanting to avoid the Charlie Brown Scenario, where the unpopular kid feels all rejected and crap–so that’s fine, but the fact remains that when valentines are obligatory for everyone, even people you wish would drop dead, the holiday just isn’t all that meaningful anymore, now is it? That’s all I’m saying.
Also, when I got older, I never had a significant other in my life on Valentine’s Day until I got engaged to SD. That’s right, kids. He’s been my only valentine. Everyone collectively sigh at the overwhelming romance of it.
Speaking of romance, this was the exchange between my husband and his boss the other day:
Boss: So that meeting with [Important Mucky Mucks] might go pretty late into the evening. That’s Valentine’s Day. Is Mrs. Housewife going to be okay with that?
SD: Yeah. She knows I love her.
Boss: Oh, right. I forgot–every day is Valentine’s Day in the Madhousehold.
And it’s true, Gentle Readers. So true.
Do you know what our Valentine’s Day tradition is? We take the kids out for pizza. It started when Princess Zurg was little and we couldn’t get a babysitter for Valentine’s Day. A local pizza parlor was serving heart-shaped pizzas, so we just decided to go for it. It was fun. It was tasty. It was cheap. That’s our family, and we like it.
What else can I tell you? I’m happy to report that in my absence, Elvis insisted on making a cake for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I love that he remembers those things.
So, yeah, I’m almost to a thousand words of absolutely nothing worth saying, so maybe I’ll wrap it up by asking you all how your weekends were and if you have any grand Valentine’s Day plans. (Flowers? Chocolates? Promises you don’t intend to keep?) Make you feel like you’re part of the blog. Because you are, Gentle Readers. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Well, maybe not the most important part–I mean, let’s face it, if I weren’t here, there wouldn’t be a blog at all. I mean, not this blog. So maybe I’m the most important part, technically, but nevertheless, YOU ARE THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT PART. I mean that. Happy Valentine’s Day, amigos! Let love rule!
And why is that, amigos? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s been hard for me, this past week. For one thing, I got sick over the weekend–nothing major, just this dumb cold, but that combined with my period, which started Sunday evening (aren’t you glad you know these things about me? you’re welcome) and always makes me sick anyway, combined with the monthly crazy that’s supposed to abate shortly after the monthly Monthly arrives but didn’t this time–well, it’s all been a little much. I have really wanted to just stay in bed for the last…six days. I should get in bed now, while the getting’s good, but the fact is that I’m lonely, so I’m going to hang out here instead.
Here is something random that is only tangentially related to the preceding paragraph: Do any of you remember that show Mama’s Family? The one with Vicki Lawrence and…some other people? Anyway, what a stupid show. No, that wasn’t why I brought it up. It was a stupid show, but why did any of us ever watch it? Because it was there. That was when I was still enrolled in the Mt. Everest School of Television Watching. But I get farther and farther away from my point. Anyway, once on Mama’s Family Mama (Vicki Lawrence) referred to a woman’s menstrual period as “Mr. Monthly Visitor,” which I have always remembered because how weird is it to refer to anything relating to menstruating as “Mr.”? It’s almost, like, ironic. Which was probably how it was intended, even though I have my doubts about the wit and cleverness of the Mama’s Family writing staff. You know, maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe Mama’s Family was way funny than I remember it being. But I doubt it.
Now my mind is on menstrual euphemisms. Some people call it the Curse. I’m rather fond of that euphemism myself, but only in an ironic, politically-incorrect way. Oh, and also a literal way, depending on what kind of mood I’m in. When I’m keeping track of my cycle, I write “C” on the calendar. For “Curse.” My mother sometimes referred to it as “a visit from Aunt Millie.” Whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean, I don’t know. Since then I have heard other people say “a visit from Aunt Flo.” That is, in fact, what my daughter has learned to call it; I think she learned it from a teacher or counselor at school. I don’t like “Aunt Flo” because it’s punny in kind of a gross way. Or a totally gross way. Whichever. It’s still better than saying “on the rag,” which to me is just vulgar, not to mention archaic. I mean, who uses rags anymore? (Note: This is a rhetorical question.)
For some reason I’m also not crazy about saying “period”–I think because if you say it enough, it just starts to sound funny. Semi-relevant aside: Is there any better use of the word “period” in a rhyming situation than Julie Brown’s “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”?
Debbie, why did you do what you just did?
(Are you having a really bad period?)
Yeah, I guess I can stop talking about that now. Or, I dunno, why bother stopping, since all the men stopped reading and vowed never to come back several paragraphs ago? I’ll tell you why: because I’m out of stuff to say about that. I’m moving-on-dot-org now.
Hey, guess what–it’s my sister’s birthday! Happy birthday, Bythelbs! Hope you like posts about menstruation!
Anyway, I’m waiting for the anticipated monthly gloom to dissipate, and it keeps doing whatever the opposite of dissipating is–I could probably look that up, but I’m too lazy. I’m probably just stressed out, what with Christmas and all. Also, I have a lot of other stuff on my mind. This afternoon I have to take Elvis to speech therapy, and then turn right around and go to Princess Zurg’s choir concert. Tomorrow morning I have to chaperone a field trip for Mister Bubby’s class, and then turn right around and go to my aunt’s funeral. My aunt died this week. That’s been another thing on my mind, but I don’t really want to talk about it. On Saturday Girlfriend has to go to a birthday party, and then we have to turn around and go to the church Christmas party. I think I’ve blogged before about how much I dislike the church Christmas party. Really, really hate it. But they will serve me a free dinner there, so it would be pretty stupid not to go, considering how much I hate trying to figure out what’s for dinner.
So my aunt died on Monday. I know I said I didn’t want to talk about it, but I changed my mind. She was my mom’s sister. She’d been in poor health for a long time, and she died peacefully in her sleep, so she is no longer suffering, and that’s good. I am sad about it, for a lot of reasons. She was favorite aunt because she was the one I knew the best. I lived with her for a while when I was 18, after I graduated high school. She was funny. She was retired and every day she watched Love Boat at 10 a.m., followed by Highway to Heaven at 11 a.m. When I wasn’t working, I liked to watch Love Boat with her. The Love Boat reunion show aired while I was living there, and we watched that together, too, though we both agreed that it was lame without Gopher. (My aunt didn’t say it was “lame,” exactly. More like, “Well, Gopher’s not going to be there. Bah!”)
After I moved out she’d still have me over for dinner sometimes. She took me to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard on my birthday. She complained about her cats, but she loved them. She had kind of a dry sense of humor. Her twin brother, who’s still alive, was always kind of goofy–or not really goofy, but more the obviously-funny one. It was fun to watch them interact with each other, though. Once he was over at the house and was making some comment about a ceiling fan, I think, that he’d installed for her. “That’s a really fine ceiling fan you’ve got there,” he said. “Someone who really knew what he was doing must have put that in there.” And she replied with an overly dramatic, almost sarcastic, “Ohhh, yes!” I guess you had to know her to know what was so funny about that. It doesn’t look very funny on paper (or screen).
In recent years she had a lot of health problems, mostly with osteoporosis and her knees, etc. She got much older, obviously, and more feeble. But she never changed. She got slower, but she was always comfortingly the same. Then she got a brain tumor. The last time I saw her, she couldn’t talk. She wasn’t the same. I didn’t visit her as much as I should have, as close as she was. I really dislike myself for that. I dislike that part of myself that always finds good excuses for not doing stuff like visiting my aged aunt on the other side of town. Will that part of me ever change?
Well. Seriously, happy birthday to my sister. Hope you like posts about menstruation and death. I suck. Sorry about that. I should start over and make this post less random and less tacky. And more…good. But I won’t because I’m tired. (See above about sucking.)
My husband’s grandmother died yesterday. It’s sad because we loved her and we’ll miss her, but she was 89 years old and in poor health, and she is probably happier now. We told the older kids last night, and they cried some–Princess Zurg more because, well, she’s a crier. We haven’t told the younger kids because we’re not sure how that conversation ought to go. Elvis knows who Great-Grandma is, but we’re not sure he knows what it means to die. Girlfriend, on the other hand, understands dying as well as your average almost-five-year-old, but we’re not sure she remembers Great-Grandma, since the last time she saw her, GF was three, and the last time before that, she had just turned two. We have pictures, of course. I guess the only thing that complicates the issue is that we are way more emotionally invested in the conversation than either of them will be. I am certainly overthinking it, so I am going to back off on the thinking for now.
In some ways I feel closer to my husband’s grandmother than I do to my own grandmother. When I was growing up, we saw my dad’s parents something like annually, since we visited their farm in Idaho every summer. For a time we lived in the same area as my mother’s mother (my mother’s father died before I was born), so we saw her a little more often, but then we moved to California and we saw less of everybody. In-laws are different, though. Half of what I feel about my grandmother-in-law is based on the fact that she was a such a big part of my husband’s life when he was growing up. His mother was widowed at a young age, and it was just her and three little boys, so the grandparents were needed more–know what I mean? So I know a lot of stories about SD’s grandma from before the time I met her.
I’ve also had a lot more conversations with his grandma than I’ve had with my own grandparents. I feel like I ought to be ashamed of myself. Well, believe me, I have some stories about my grandparents. My husband’s family is different than mine, though. The way they interact with each other is very different. I think they are just better conversationalists, and that’s okay.
Since my mother died, I have all this guilt about my failure to record our family history. There weren’t enough pictures of my mother. Not enough stories were written down. Whenever I was with SD’s grandmother and she started telling a story, I’d think, “She’s not going to be around forever. If I had a video camera, I’d turn it on right now and get all this for posterity.” Of course, if I’d actually had a video camera and turned it on, she probably would have gotten self-conscious and stopped talking. I knew that at the time, so I just tried really hard to remember what she was saying, but of course I’ve forgotten most of it.
One story I remember because she told it a million times (give or take) was that she majored in music in high school, but she only had something like thirteen piano lessons as a child. When she practiced, she just liked to play through everything as fast as she could, and her mother told her if she didn’t slow down and play it the way her teacher told her to, she wasn’t going to let her take lessons anymore. But Grandma just went on doing like she always did, and her mother finally walked over to the piano, took away the lesson book, and that was the end of Grandma’s piano lessons. I always thought that was sad, but then, I am paying $135 a month for piano lessons for two kids who don’t even want them, so maybe I really just feel like a schmuck.
Another story she liked to tell was how when she worked as a teller at a bank, there was a customer with the name of Liffshits or Lippshits, or something like that. (She kidded you not.) She also liked to tell the story of how she once said the word “pervert” in front of SD and his brothers, and the boys all stomped their feet and laughed themselves silly because Grandma said “pervert.” She also liked to tell the story of how SD’s brother nursed until he was three and he told everyone that his mother’s breasts gave chocolate milk. That’s more a story about SD’s brother than about Grandma, but Grandma sure loved telling it.
There’s more in the recesses of my memory, probably, and you should probably be grateful that I can’t bring it all to the surface right now. Anyway, life goes on. I have a million loads of laundry to do, and GF wants me to read her a book, so there it is. Enjoy your respective weekends, gentle readers.
A white woman as Secretary of State? That’s so retro!
I actually like this appointment. Despite the fact that Secretary of State is a career-killer, I can’t imagine that Hillary has given up her dream of being POTUS someday. Which means that she will still be mercenary and politic, which is how I like my Hillary. Good old Hillary.
It is my pleasure to thank my sister, Bythelbs, for graciously hosting me and my fabulous coterie over the Thanksgiving holiday. I want to take this opportunity also to apologize for anything we might have broken. Not that I know of anything we might have broken. ::shifty eyes:: I know nothing. I was hopped-up on Robitussin the whole time. Okay, for the last 12 hours. Anything broken in the last 12 hours of our stay, I plead ignorance. Did I mention that her apple pie was delicious?
I got to play Guitar Hero for the first time. I discovered, much to my opposite-of-surprise, that I suck at Guitar Hero. Also, that should I ever come in possession of a Wii, I would become even less productive than usual because I would always be playing Guitar Hero instead of doing something productive. You see what a weekend of Guitar Hero has done to my writing skillz alone? No wonder I blew off NaNoWriMo. (Yes, I am blaming my poor performance over the course of an entire month on a couple hours of playing Guitar Hero on Friday. That is my way. Some things will never change.)
New Elvis phrases
“Don’t poop in your underpants.”
“Don’t flush your underpants.”
“Don’t cut my eyebrows.”
Princess Zurg: Why do they call it “the Book of Esther” if Esther didn’t write it?
Madhousewife: Because it’s about Esther.
Sugar Daddy: Why do they call it “Genesis,” when Phil Collins had nothing to do with it?
Mad: It was one of Peter Gabriel’s, before he left the band.
WELCOME TO DECEMBER, SUCKAHS!
My recital last Thursday went very well, though I felt a tad let down when it was over. I had worked so hard, and it was so much fun, I really wanted to do it more than once. I’m sure my husband is glad that I’m not doing it more than once. He was supportive during the six weeks of extra rehearsals, but as he put it, “I’m happy to support you, but I’ll be happier when I don’t have to support you anymore.” So there it is. My moment in the spotlight is over, and my husband doesn’t have to support me again until next spring. Congratulations, honey!
I think all the complaining I did about the long, long, looooonnnnnng drive to my sister’s house in Washington served as some kind of pre-emptive strike, as I encountered absolutely no traffic either to or from my destination. Not in Tacoma, not in Seattle. On Memorial Day weekend! I must have been doing the Lord’s work, because the other side of the freeway was a parking lot, but on my side it was like the parting of the Red Sea. I made each trip in less than four-and-a-half hours, and I wasn’t even speeding (much). Fate loves nothing better than to prove me wrong (or more specifically, to prove me a big fat sissy whiner).
About one thing I was not wrong, though: Girlfriend napped in the car and was subsequently up all night, both Friday and Monday. There was no joy in being right on that count, alas. It was a small price to pay, though, for the three of us had a wonderful weekend–especially Princess Zurg, who had the time of her life playing with all of her cousins.
Sugar Daddy asked me what we all did this weekend, and I’m not sure what he was expecting me to report. When my family gets together, it is sort of an event in and of itself. In fact, this is the first time all of my siblings and I have gotten together since my wedding eleven years ago. (At least, I think my siblings were all at my wedding. That day’s kind of a blur for me.) We all fell into our usual patterns: my older sister cooked a lot, my younger sister helped her, my youngest sister read a book, and I dealt with my needy children. I don’t remember what my dad and brother were doing.
Well, my brother was there to go on dates with a girl, so a lot of the time he was doing that. The girl came over for dinner on Sunday night, so I got to meet her. She seemed nice. I hope he marries her. I really can’t tell you how much I want my brother to get married and married soon. Mostly because I know he would like to get married. But also because there’s this stigma against unmarried Mormon men of a certain age (say, 25). Usually not without good reason, as Mormon men are highly motivated to marry young, and the most common reason for a Mormon man not to marry young is that he’s creepy or has bad personal hygiene. Yes, this is a cruel stereotype, not unlike the stereotype of unmarried Mormon women over 21 being either a) fat or b) CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! (For the record, I was “b.”) Anyway, I’m anxious for the next phase of his life to begin. He’s out of school and he’s got a job. And he’s related to me, so you know he’s good-looking. (Tall, long neck, doleful eyes.) So what’s the hold-up?
I’m being facetious, just so you know. It’s not like I’m pressuring him to get married. I mentioned not a word about it all weekend. I didn’t even so much as ask about his ladyfriend, much to SD’s dismay. SD wanted to know he smooched her. I said I didn’t know. Only I said it like, “I don’t know, you freak, what kind of pervert knows stuff like that about her baby brother?” He couldn’t believe that I hadn’t asked him about it. He said he would ask him himself when he sees him next week. Men and their giggly gossiping. Bah!
My sister just got a Wii Fit, and so we played with that some. I should be opposed to the Wii Fit on principle, and yet I couldn’t help but be impressed with how technology makes even the most mundane exercise more exciting. It was really fun–much better than being out playing in the sunshine. I did some Wii yoga. I learned that my center of balance is slightly to the left. I also learned that I suck at virtual hula-hooping. Also, that my Wii Fit Age was 32. Woo-hoo! I don’t know what they base their calculations on, but who am I to question the Wii Fit?
Anyway, it was a great visit. I think the fact that I had only two of my kids with me contributed heavily to the greatness thereof. When I left, I thought, “We should come back again soon. But not all six of us.”
Princess Zurg was an easy traveling companion this time around. After we listened to the Corpse Bride soundtrack once (only once!), she let me play whatever CD’s I wanted to. I listened to Joan Armatrading, Todd Rundgren, Chaka Khan, and Split Enz. I even listened to some Better Than Ezra. “No, girl, you did not!” Yes, girl, I did. (Well, not the whole CD, just part of it.) I listened to ABC’s Lexicon of Love twice. That album kicks butt. It’s like Chic meets James Bond. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about ABC is that they put together some really clever rhymes. If you gave me a pound for the moments I missed/And I got dancing lessons for all the lips I should have kissed/I’d be a millionaire; I’d be a Fred Astaire. You have to imagine it being sung by some guy all overwrought and yet still British. Or maybe you have to be there. Maybe you have to have bad taste in music. Well, same to you, pal.
On the other hand, I spent the last leg of my trip listening to that other Chic-inspired British band, Duran Duran, and I was struck yet again by how messed-up those cats’ song lyrics are. They’re not clever, but neither are they inane. They’re beyond inane. They’re beyond ridiculous. “I’m dancing on the valentine”? “There’s a dream that strings the road with broken glass for us to hold”? What does any of that mean? It doesn’t mean anything! Really, there’s only one way to make sense of these lyrics: they were obviously some kind of code. Like, spy stuff. “The eagle has landed.” “The fat man walks alone.” “The union of the snake is on the climb.” If I had unlimited free time, I could probably decipher all of it eventually. You should watch in a few years for my book titled Is There Something I Should Know? How Duran Duran Helped Us Win the Cold War. Or alternatively, Notorious: How We Won the Cold War Despite the Best Efforts of Duran Duran. It’s unclear to me as of yet which side they were really on. (Research for this project may have to wait until I’ve finished my self-help tome, Everything I Needed To Know in Life I Learned from Depeche Mode. Chapter One: “People Are People.”)
So I’m back at home, super-behind on the laundry, house rapidly falling into chaos, but at least I did a blog for you. All for you. None of it was for me. Except maybe that part about Duran Duran. Okay, I promise I’ll write something more interesting tomorrow. Or the next day. We’ll see how I’m feeling.