We were having a bad day.
Brooklyn was a snowy wonderland, and we were inside, getting mad at each other. Nothing worked right. The place was a mess. We should clean more, we should be more organized, but there's never enough time. We were in each other's way, because there's not enough space, never enough space, and we yelled. Then we hugged and apologized and then discussed our rational and well-thought-out points which devolved into more yelling, and then a second round of hugs (shoved together by Henry, who had really had enough of our behavior). We retreated to our corners. We pledged to be better in the future.
Outside the sky was turning bright, and there was all this snow, crying out to us, SLED ON ME. Now. Jerks. It was time to cheer up. Because: snow! Last year it never snowed, after all, and the sled sat in our upstairs hallway, whimpering softly to itself. Personally I loathe sledding, but the men in my family want nothing more than to hurtle down slopes, and I like to watch them and wring my hands.
We layered up and trudged outside, where the fun times could be had. Only, Henry's boots were bothering him. We're a few blocks to the park, but every few feet we had to stop so Henry could examine and adjust his boots. He was pretty grouchy about it. He kept taking them off. We were losing our patience. Everything, I thought, is terrible. We are incapable of joy. Around us all the happy families were passing us on their way to the park or back from the park, laughing, holding their sleds, probably going home to whip up artisanal hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.
One block, two blocks. The wind was gusting in our faces. The seventh time Henry stopped to adjust his socks I wondered why we bothered going out, ever. Why everything had to be so fucking hard. I sighed heavily and Scott cursed under his breath and Henry was, I am sure, heartily sick of both of us.
Finally we got to the park, where everyone in the universe already was, and all having a delightful time. No one seemed to mind that they were sharing a relatively small hill in the park with everyone else in the universe. People were crashing into each other, sledding into each other, squealing and cheering. I stood up there, watching them all, wondering how they stood it.
There ensued some complicated sledding adventures. Complicated because there was too much humanity present on the hill to actually sled, and also the boots. THE BOOTS. By the time we left I was sure I had gone terribly wrong, not just in one area of my life, but every single one of them. Henry insisted he could barely walk, and he was being pretty dramatic about it, and I thought, this is because of the morning we had. Because I lost my shit and yelled loudly enough for the neighbors to wonder about me. I have literally hobbled my son.
When we got home I took a close look at his boots. Turned out they were TINY. Because the last time we needed snow boots it was 2010. They were at least two sizes too small. We didn't hobble our child emotionally. WE HOBBLED HIM WITH SMALL BOOTS.
Then we ordered him a pair of new boots, put on a movie, drank hot cocoa, and had a perfectly lovely day.
It occurred to me later on, Small Boots is every imaginary problem I torture myself with. Every dilemma I'm sure is insoluble, but could be fixed, if I dedicate some energy to focusing on solutions instead of the problem. And really, we have no big problems. We need a few feet more space, a few hours in the week. Boots can be purchased; time can be found; a few household-management changes can keep us from blowing up after a stressful week. It's all Small Boots. I'm no life coach, and I promise not to make this my catchphrase, but you have to admit, it has a ring to it.
We were having a bad day.
Today's the publication date for my friend Rita Arens' young-adult novel, The Obvious Game. It is a good book that you should and will read!
The Obvious Game centers around 15-year-old Diana Keller, who's having a tough time, to say the least. Her mom is battling cancer, and Diana's dealing with quite a body image problem, which nosedives straight into an eating disorder. Plus, you know, she's a teenager, and it doesn't get much worse than that.
I'm in mid-reading, myself, and I'm enthralled. Me, a full-fledged adult! So don't think you have to be one of those teens to enjoy this. (Although I'm sure the teenager in your life will love it, as well.)
Rita worked hard to get her book published. Here she is on overcoming rejection.
At some point, I realized I wanted this book more than I cared how embarrassed I had to be to get it published. I think that’s what gets things done. In my heart of hearts, I know that for every writer who just knew the right people and was so amazingly talented and writing the right thing at just the right moment, there are hundreds of thousands who are just like me, for whom every victory is hard won.
I love how refreshingly open Rita is about the process/psychic ordeal for a first-time novelist. Hooray for perseverance!
Would you like a copy of your own? Rita has graciously offered to give away one copy (with a signed bookplate) to a lucky winner. I require a comment with your most awkward teenage moment (or just *an* awkward moment, if there are too many to choose from) and I shall choose the winner by next Thursday, February 14th.
WE HAVE A WINNER.
Your anecdotes were all appropriately mortifying (and how!), but this one stood out above the rest. And will give me flashback-nightmares for at least a week.
When I was 14, I had the biggest crush on this football player (with a bowl haircut? what?). So of course, my idiot friends, Bowl Cut, and I thought it'd be super cool to sneak little bottles of booze into the woods outside of a big German fest and get drunk off of god awful cheap liquor. Freshmen are totally smart and consistently make good decisions. Cut to: Bowl Cut wants me to go on a a ride called The Breakdance. You know the one. You're in a pod that's spinning, on an arm that's spinning, while the whole thing SPINS. As we're hurling through the air and the neon lights are wavering back and forth and whizzing up and down, Bowl Cut turns to me and says, "I don't feel so good." I confidently responded, "Me neither, but there's no way I'm going to be sick." Then, my mouth opened. A river of vomit projected out of my face and hit every single other car on The Breakdance. The ride was spinning so violently that there was nothing anyone could do but hope their eyes and mouth were closed at the right time. And guess what? Bowl Cut did NOT want to be my boyfriend after that! I know... I was confused too.
Congratulations, Kate! I'll be contacting you about your copy of Rita's book.
As you all know, because you follow everything I say and do and think, I've been growing out my short hair. I've long been a fan of short hair, and in fact have had short hair for most of my life. Every now and then, though, I overdo it and get some kind of super-pixie and am promptly freaked out by how much of my face you can see. And so I attempt to grow it out.
Such was the case with this cut, which was this short mostly so we could cut off all the dyed hair. Also, I can't believe this was two years ago. Hair grows slowly. On the other hand this seems like a week ago. Time in a bottle, etc.
All I could think after this cut was NOWHERE TO HIDE. Also, OH MY GOD MY FOREHEAD. Let's be honest: I have a long face. I need, at the very least, more bangs than this. I spent a good month after this tugging at my bangs, as if that would cause them to grow faster.
So! Growing out the hair, and I've reached the length wherein I am wondering Why The Hell Does a Person Do This? The hair, she is all over. I have a LOT of hair, and I'm overdue for a trim. It feels wild and unruly. I am used to tame, not to mention ruly. I was just complaining to someone (my postal worker?) about how ungodly long it is, and then I was compelled to take a picture to complain to the Internet, and this is what I got.
Okay, never mind.
Is it possible to have Hair Dysmorphia? I really did think it was pretty long before I took this. It seems I have a way to go until it's legitimately long or even not-short. And so, I shall hang in there, my friends. I am a model of courage and perseverance.
No one wants to hear excuses, I know, but but but! My class started. And these students! It's all their fault. With their demands on my attention. Distracting me with their smarts and charms. I think I love them. I also loved my first group of students, of course. Oh, hell, I love all you people. A couple of you I merely like, but that could change at any moment.
So hey, hello! Who has the flu? Not us, suckers! What we do have is a raging case of hypochondria. So many of our friends and neighbors are succumbing, day after day, that every sneeze or cough or unusual fatigue has one of us moaning OH NO HERE IT COMES. Taking our (normal) temperatures. Running out to buy chicken-soup ingredients before the aches hit. Stocking up on cough drops. Etc. We're annoying, but fortunately we understand each other, and even more fortunately, we don't have the flu. (Yet.) (My legs feel funny.)
If you have it, or have had it, I am so terribly sorry. There is nothing worse. I've had the flu twice in my life. The first time, I tried going back to work after two weeks and fainted (fortunately while sitting) on the F train. I regained consciousness only to find myself face-down on the subway seat (gross). When I managed to sit up, two young women were giving me the "sick or drunk?" questioning look. I believe I saluted them. Did that answer your question, ladies?
The moral of the story here is, if you're sick, give yourself plenty of time before considering mass transportation. And once you're out there, maybe pin a note to yourself. A note that says "Not Drunk." That's the note I wear every day. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I'm not drunk right now, I swear. You'll have to take my word for it, since you can't see my pinned note.